Learn all the tips and tricks to get the best results from spray painted patio cushions…and the truth about whether or not it’s worth the the effort.
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It’s week 5 of the One Room Challenge, and
Have you ever gotten to a point in a project when the bills just keep adding up and you’re tired of pulling out the credit card?
That’s where we are with this backyard renovation.
But just because I’m tired of spending cash on our project, doesn’t mean I’m willing to scrap the whole thing.
Oh no, I’m too stubborn for that.
And it’s a good thing, too, because our patio furniture needed a major facelift.
You see, our patio set is about 9 years old by now, but technically it’s still in decent condition.
So there’s no point in purchasing new patio furniture, especially after the unexpected expense of building the kids’ storage shed.
Seriously, it’s so tiresome seeing the budget expand. It was time to evaluate our options.
Options for Updating Our Old Patio Set
1. Buy New Cushions
This is definitely the easiest option…if you have a patio set that fits standard sized cushions. Unfortunately, there are no store-bought options that fit our set.
Plus, patio cushions can get expensive fast! At around $20 per cushion (on the cheap end), my wallet wants to cry.
2. Make New Cushions Myself
Whoa there. I’m no seamstress. It would take a major learning curve for me to actually make decent looking cushions. And, again, outdoor fabric is crazy expensive.
Let’s just say that option is best left as a future project.
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3. Use Stain to Update the Patio Cushions
Now we’re onto something. Fabric stain is cheap and easy to get. But there are some concerns:
- What if the staining process make the cushion covers shrink too much?
- Will the stain run or bleed if the cushions get rained on?
- Stain will change the color, but most likely won’t cover the pattern.
4. Paint the Patio Cushions
Well, there! I’m game for painting just about anything. There are a couple options here: 1) spray painted patio cushions, or 2) using a bonding agent with latex or acrylic paint.
You’ve probably already figured out what I did. Yes, I actually spray painted my patio cushions. And it only cost about $60.
So why not spray paint patio cushions?
Testing Out Spray Painted Patio Cushions
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about the whole process. so I grabbed one of the patio set’s throw pillows and did a little test run and thank goodness I did!
As you see below, it took a full three layers to get decent coverage of the fabric, though the pattern isn’t completely covered.
But it gave me enough confidence to move ahead and paint the rest of the set.
All it took was three very messy days of work, and all 8 of our cushions were completed.
Don’t get me wrong, It was a lot of work. But the cushions are no longer drab. They’re bright and cheery and ready for summer.
Hopefully they’ll hold up for another nine years.
Key things to know about spray painted patio cushions:
1. The first coat or two will look horrible
No, really. They’ll look completely terrible.
You’ll want to go cry in a panic and wonder why on Earth you chose to spray paint your patio cushions.
Just take a deep breath and know that it will get better…eventually.
2. The Texture of Your Fabric will Never Be the Same
Paint is just not as soft as fabric, and it never will be.
The best way to describe it is that it feels a bit like a screen print on a t-shirt.
If you’re doing this for an indoor chair, you might not like the results. But outdoor cushions aren’t that plush anyway, right?
3. Don’t Use Sandpaper Between Coats
I’m not sure who started that recommendation, but it seems to show up regularly.
Let me tell you, even with fine grit sandpaper and trying to be as gentle as possible, sandpaper did nothing but snag my cushions.
After the first snag, I switched to 0000 grade steel wool and was much happier.
Because it’s so fine, steel wool really softens up the cushions. It also helps to get rid of any rough spots that result from spray painted patio cushions.
I have no doubt that this is the key to keeping your cushions soft enough to be comfortable.
When I was diligent enough to sand very well between every coat with steel wool, the fabric is only slightly stiffer than it was originally. And since these are outdoor cushions, people expect them to be stiffer than indoor fabric, anyway.
4. Lightly dampen the Fabric Before You Paint
The water helps the paint get into all of the natural grooves of the fabric instead of just sitting on top. As a result, your cushions won’t be quite so stiff as they could be.
Sadly, I forgot this step until I was already 3 coats in. But I did notice that the fourth coat-with slightly damp fabric-dried much more evenly.
5. Patterns and Prints WILL Show Through
I gave the tops of my cushions 5 coats of spray paint, and you can still slightly see the arabesque pattern on our side chairs.
But, if you don’t love the pattern of your original fabric, you’re likely to be disappointed.
6. Plan to Use a LOT of Spray Paint
I originally planned for 3 coats per cushion, but ended up applying 4 or 5 coats, depending on the pattern and whether it was the top or bottom of the cushion.
Yes, I got tired and lazy, and left the bottoms a little less covered. Don’t tell anyone, okay?
Now, let’s get started with the good part!
How to Spray Paint Patio Cushions
First, Thoroughly Clean Your Cushions
- Mix a small amount of dish soap with water in a bucket.
- Using a scrub brush, scrub all the dirt and grime off your old cushions.
- Spray off all the soapy water with the jet nozzle from your hose. Make sure your cushions are completely rinsed off.
- Lean your cushions on their corners or on an end to let the water drain. Make sure the cushions are completely dry before moving on (We gave our cushions 2 solid sunny days of drying)
Next, Spray Paint Your Patio Cushions
- Protect your spraying surface with drop cloths or contractor’s paper. If you are working outside, remember to protect any areas that might get overspray from wind.
- Lightly dampen the cushions with a small rag. Be sure not to soak the cushions.
- With the can about 6-12 inches away from the cushion, apply the first coat using light, even movements.
- Allow the spray paint to dry, and then rub the cushions lightly with steel wool. Be sure to wear sturdy gloves so the steel wool doesn’t cut your hands. Do not rub too hard, or you will rub off most of the spray paint. Dust off any steel wool shards before moving on.
- Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you reach your desired coverage. It took me 4 to 5 coats for each cushion.
- Vacuum the cushions with brush nozzle of a vacuum cleaner to remove all possible steel wool shards and spray paint dust.
And, Now you have spray painted patio cushions!
Would I spray paint my patio cushions again?
If I knew before starting what I know now, I’m not sure I would have actually spray painted my patio cushions.
Don’t get me wrong, I love them.
But it took about five coats per cushion to get the coverage I wanted, meaning I purchased about 15 cans of spray paint for my 8 large cushions.
That’s a whole lot of spray paint.
Then again, at roughly $4 per can and $3 for a pack of steel wool, that’s only $63.
Obviously a new patio set is significantly more expensive. You can’t even re-cover or purchase new cushions for that price.
So if you have the patience, and the time, and if you’re only painting 2 or 4 cushions, I say go for it.
If you’re doing more than that, you might want to try painting with latex paint, fabric medium and a roller (or a spray gun!. A quart of paint is less than $60, and rolling might (emphasis on might) take less time.
Don’t be surprised if you see me give that a try sometime.
Even still, it’s nice to have a cheery patio set amidst all this rain. And at least it didn’t cost a fortune.
What’s the craziest thing you ever spray painted?
Would you spray paint fabric cushions?
See the Entire Renovation:
I want to extend many thanks to the readers who have enjoyed renovation and home DIY posts over the years. Unfortunately, in January 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer and had to stop doing home renovation posts due to treatment.
Since that time, my focus has been on making this website an amazing resource for the everyday mom’s parties. Due to their popularity, the DIY posts and tutorials will remain on the website, but comments are now closed. Thank you again and I wish you the best in your DIY endeavors!